What a bash! Thanks for paying

Before I get on my moral high horse and prance about this page decrying the violence and destruction that followed Saturday nights big rugby league game, Id just like to thank Lismore City Council for subsidising the game.

Council voted to put aside around $10,000 to entice some big name league matches into our fair city last year and on Saturday night over 9000 league fans crowded into Oakes Oval to watch a rugged, fast-paced encounter. I was there to capture the action on my trusty camera, which I enjoyed, but sadly I didnt follow the fans into the street so I didnt capture any of the brawls that apparently broke out after the match. Pity my pictures could have earned themselves a day in court.

Apart from the phone box which was smashed, it is worth noting that some businesses came out of the event in the black. Most notably was the newest NRL franchise, the Gold Coast Titans. The Titans, who hosted the sell-out event, must have grossed at least $200,000 in ticket and alcohol sales. But more importantly they would be over the moon about the level of support the event gained them. At one stage the crowd even started chanting the club name. This means more to them than the gate takings. It means ongoing sales of merchandise, extra sales of season tickets, and it means they have made some serious inroads into getting a fan-base and thereby a viable business. For them it was a win-win-win situation.

So who else got on board the gravy train? The petrol stations must have enjoyed all the traffic and the local pubs undoubtedly picked up plenty of extra business on Saturday night. As did their bouncers who were kept busy late into the morning. Then there were the extra police, who were trucked in from all around the district to help manage the event. That would have drawn some serious overtime payments that would funnel back into the local economy.

Despite the obvious social and economic costs of the after match street party, there will still be a few councillors who will defend the match, and proclaim it a big win for Lismore. What figures they will quote Im not sure. Perhaps theyre part owners of petrol stations or have an abiding interest in the motor industry? Maybe they just like their league.

I dont mind watching the odd game myself and Id just like to, once again, thank the ratepayers of this district for subsidising my appetite for it. And whats more Im impressed with the fact that Lismore Council has once and for all discarded any belief in the doctrine of user pays. Now at least we can see that their political decisions are based purely on what councillors desire to promote and have nothing whatsoever to do with any over-arching philosophy. Great, so now we can have a wide-ranging discussion about what activities we want to subsidise in Lismore. Do we want better canoeing facilities, or would we rather a big bash in Woodlark Street? Do we want a water slide in Goonellabah or wealthy friends in the NRL? Lets get our priorities right. What kind of Lismore would we like to promote and which would we like to discourage?

We have some money to spend, apparently, so lets have a bit of a bun fight about it? Eh?

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